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Heavy Medal: A Mock Newbery Blog
Inside Heavy Medal

Counting By 7s


I’LL BE THERE by Holly Goldberg Sloan was always on my list of books to read because of the interesting plot summary and the appealing cover art but I never got around to it, so I had to change that this time around when her second book, COUNTING BY 7s, racked up even more starred [...]

What the [Very Bad Swearword] Is a Children’s Book Anyway?


A couple years ago, Neil Gaiman delivered the Zena Sutherland Lecture which was reprinted in the Horn Book with this title.  Gaiman examined this question by considering his three works in progress.  Incidentally, they were all published this year: CHU’S DAY (a picture book), FORTUNATELY, THE MILK (a beginning chapter book), and THE OCEAN AT [...]

Revisiting Sequels: Larson, Farmer, Gantos


We’ve already discussed P.S. BE ELEVEN and AL CAPONE DOES MY HOMEWORK, but there is also a further trio of Newbery sequels to consider this year: HATTIE EVER AFTER, THE LORD OF OPIUM, and FROM NORVELT TO NOWHERE. I never read HATTIE BIG SKY because it didn’t have much buzz going into the YMAs and [...]

Getting Real

I’m as happy as the next person to enthusiastically recommend THE REAL BOY to adults and children for pleasure reading, but like Nina I have grave reservations about it as a Newbery book.  I’m hesitant to follow her mixed review with one of my own, especially because not many people have spoken up in favor [...]

Looking Back: 2005


Mark Flowers has an interesting series on his blog, Crossreferencing, in which he revisits the Printz choices from previous years to see whether he agrees with them or not.  He’s done 2000-2003 so far.  It’s a fun exercise, and while I don’t have the stamina to start the same thing here, I’m going to revisit [...]

Ghost Hawk


At last!  It’s time to talk about GHOST HAWK, arguably Susan Cooper’s best book since The Dark Is Rising Sequence.  (I say arguably because I think the other book you can make a case for is KING OF SHADOWS.)  That’s not really part of the Newbery criteria, however, but the book does well in that [...]

October Nominations


Each member of the Newbery committee will submit three nominations to the chair sometime during the month of October, probably on or around October 15.  Each nomination is submitted with a brief written justification.  My strategy at this point is quite simple: I’m going to nominate the three best titles.  In no particular order. ERUPTION! by [...]

Scientists in the Field


As you well know, last year was an amazing year for nonfiction.  We had an unprecedented amount of depth and quality in the field, and while only one nonfiction book–BOMB–cracked the Newbery roster, I felt that several additional titles, namely MOONBIRD and TITANIC, were similarly worthy.  While the nonfiction field is much thinner this year, there are still [...]

The Year of Billy Miller (and Other Beginning Chapter Books)


It was the first day of second grade and Billy Miller was worried.  He was worried he wouldn’t be smart enough for the school year. There was a reason Billy was worried.  Two weeks earlier on their drive home from visiting Mount Rushmore and the Black Hills of South Dakota . . . While I [...]

Penny and Her Marble (and Other Easy Readers)


Aside from the comparative simplicity of the text and the interdependence of text and illustrations, the biggest problem the committee faces in evaluating easy readers for Newbery recognition is that most publishers simply do not submit them, leaving committee members to find–and champion–them on their own.  That’s easy to do when you have big names [...]